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Dreaming Out Loud: Graffiti -- showing senior pride or simply staining city property?

By Andrew Adam Published: April 16, 2014 12:00 AM
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This is coming a bit late, but I'm happy to say it's now been 1 year since I took over as editor at the Hudson Hub-Times.

Well, 13 months... but who's counting, anyway?

It's been a lot of fun learning more about this community, meeting readers and city leaders, and seeing what makes the city of Hudson tick.

One of my jobs is to learn about what people care about, so I know my priorities on what to cover.

And apparently, after 13 months, the thing people here in Hudson care about most is... graffiti.

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Yes, this took me by surprise, too.

In the short time I've been here, we've had a city manager "mutually agree to separate" with the city, an election with several city Council and Board of Education spots on the line, a pastor imprisoned in the Philippines and a tragic car accident costing the life of a recent Hudson High School graduate.

But none of these topics, or any other story, has prompted more letters to the editor and Facebook discussion than the '#Seniors 2014' graffiti on the train bridge over West Streetsobor Road/Route 303 in downtown Hudson.

Half of you don't seem to mind the bright orange declaration by the senior class. Just let it go and let them have some fun.

Half of you point out that even if it is teenagers doing it, and there is nothing insulting involved, in the end, it's illegal.

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Here's my perspective, as someone who doesn't live in Hudson, but is now invested into the community.

I got to see the graffiti two weekends ago in person on the way back from a track meet at Western Reserve Academy. As we headed under the bridge and I looked up, my first thought was, "Wow, this reminds me of my collegiate days at Akron, when we used to run through the not-so-nice parts of the city."

Is that the perception the people of Hudson want when people visit? If you, the readers, are OK with it, I guess I can be. But really?

To me, graffiti is graffiti. I wouldn't be proud of any part of my city being cased in the stuff.

"But the seniors do this every year," I've seen people say. OK, last year's was white-colored, and didn't stand out like this year's orange-colored signage does. We can all thank neon for that, being the "in" thing right now. Placement of it also grabbed more people's attention.

"But it's not on anyone's personal property," I've seen people say. OK, so if the class of 2015 decides to put "Seniors 2015" on the Hudson Clocktower, that's cool, right? I mean that's no one's personal property.

There are better alternatives. Get a spirit rock at Hudson High School, put it out front, and let students paint all over that thing.

Or be creative. One of the best and funniest stories I've heard in the past 13 months was about Quincy Manfred Schumann, a "person" a group of Hudson High School students made up in the 1970s and for four years made "him" an ongoing prank at the school, ending with him even walking across the stage at graduation and receiving a diploma.

Originality is usually remembered, and a great life skill to have no matter what you grow up to be.

Copycatting something illegal, on the other hand, is probably not the best thing to learn in high school.

Let's see some creativity with the senior prank. But, please, keep it legal.


Graffiti in downtown Hudson brings out colorful reader reaction – April 9

City waiting on railroad's response to latest track of graffiti - April 2

Letter: People missing the point about graffiti – April 13

Letter: Graffiti breaks the law, plain and simple – April 13

Letter: Yearly graffiti 'seniors' sign brings smile to resident's face – April 13

Letter: Railroad graffiti prank goes too far - April 6

Letter: Response to letter on graffiti overpass - April 2

Letter: Reader defends parents in response to graffiti letter – April 2

Letter: Resident wants graffiti erased off bridge on West Streetsboro Road – March 23

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commonsense1 Apr 21, 2014 11:33 AM

Unfortunately, Hudson is located in a black hole when it comes to investigative journalism; too far from either Cleveland or Akron to warrant coverage.  Let's all face it -- the Hub-Times is basically a good-news newspaper; with most of the content consisting of re-prints of press releases issued by the city and the school district.   

Virtually nothing has been written or discussed about the millions of dollars spent (wasted?) on items like the Youth Development Center or the Veterans Way bridge (built at full cost to the city; which traverses railroad tracks that don't carry any trains).  We'll be paying taxes for both of these white elephants for years to come.

Two city managers have departed over the past 10 years, with virtually no comment or investigation as to why they were relieved of their duties by the city council.

I have to agree with "oldlady", below -- many Hudson residents care deeply about issues like these, and would become more involved if more information was available.

andrewa Apr 17, 2014 7:17 PM

Appreciate all the feedback as always from readers.

@NancyB The railroad is still active, but they have been slow to respond to the city's request to remove the graffiti. It's not the railroad's fault that it is up there. The spirit rock was simply one suggestion. Both the University of Akron and Kent State Unversity have one. Again, merely 1 suggestion, I'd love to see others from people rather than defacing of property.

@oldlady I only used the clocktower as an example because I saw multiple people comment that as long as the seniors spray non-personal property, it is OK. I do agree it is very dangerous to be messing around on the tracks when trains run through. I never called anyone thugs or careless, I merely said I thought it was interesting that this topic caused so much discussion. I wish people would discuss more topics like this. I know the other stories were more important, and I know many people read them. I never said this issue was the most imporant, simply the most discussed. As for the size of the paper, that is completely dicatated by the number of ads. I would love to be at 56-64 pages each issue, just like the reader.

@irish12 In a nut shell, I'm saying spraying graffiti on public property is illegal, and wrong. I'm not sure what part of that is not fact.

Again, always apprediate feedback from readers, good and bad. Hope to see comments on other stories as well!

- Editor Andrew Adam

irish12 Apr 17, 2014 6:16 PM

A word to the "wise," do not confuse an employment assignment with community investment.  You may have worked here for 13 months, but that does not necessarily assure an understanding of the concerns of the citizenry.  Presumption is ignorance and youthful presumption is arrogance.  Additionally, mentioning the grave personal tragedies of local families does not validate or elevate your argument.  There is no integrity in it.

Your current position with the Hub Times is likely just one small step on your journey to journalistic acclaim.  Check your facts, and your spelling; make your efforts worthwhile, not a tongue-in-cheek mockery of your readers.

oldlady Apr 16, 2014 8:56 PM

I think the trains are getting too numerous and too fast to hold on to this tradition.  However, I think the editor is missing the point.  People weren't reacting to defend the painting (which is vandalism) as much as they were defending this group of seniors (who were only doing what was implicitly condoned for the last forty years, legal or not).  And to compare painting the overpass--an aesthetic nightmare--to defacing the clock tower is adding fuel to the fire. 

I do understand that some letter writers were so heated that they wrote passionately. 

What I don't understand is as a writer and editor, couldn't Mr. Adam have figured out a way to use his position to lead us to a new tradition without basically calling the kids thugs and the citizens careless of the Big Picture?

Also, the editor missed the boat in saying Hudsonites care more about this issue than others, based on letters.   Perhaps we couldn't comment on the other items mentioned, because we didn't have enough coverage from our local investigative reporters.  In the case of Mr. Bales, for instance, the story read like a rehashing of a City press release.  And what of Bruce Graham?  Even if everyone signed "no comment" contracts, couldn't the Hub have at least reviewed the highlights of these gentlemen's careers and found contacts willing to comment?

I have been disappointed many times recently with my tiny, twenty four page paper.  I DO care about substantive issues in MY town.  I think other people do, too.

NancyB Apr 16, 2014 5:14 PM

Do you read the newspaper you edit? The overpass does not belong to the City... it belongs to the railroad. It is not a century old landmark... it is an neglected property that allowed a historic train depot fall in such disrepair that it was torn down.

"Get a Spirit Rock" ... really? really? You might want to spend some actual time in Hudson with people who have lived here for more than a year... oh... sorry 13 months.